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CHAMPAIGN — James Matthew North, 70, passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family, in Ashland, Mo., on Saturday (Nov. 2, 2019).

James was born Dec. 8, 1948, in Vanderbilt, Texas, to mother Susie (Brown) North. After graduating from high school, James’ service in the U.S. Air Force included a tour in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Following education at Parkland College and the University of Illinois, James established and managed American Dowell Signcrafters for more than 40 years. Jim very much enjoyed designing signs and working with his clients and employees, many of whom he counted as dear friends.

James was a wonderful man of God, husband, father, grandfather and friend. Gracious and generous to his core, James mentored young men and loved helping friends, family and especially the homeless and downtrodden. He was the backbone of his family, and his grandchildren were his world. Pop will be missed always.

James attended Faith Church in Bloomington, Crusaders Church of Danville and, most recently, Rockbridge Church in Columbia, Mo. He volunteered at and supported Urban Restoration in Champaign and the Salvation Army.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Susie North; sisters, F.L. Miller and Mary Sue North; and brothers, Ira Lafayette North, Bobby Ray North and Billy Ray North.

Jim will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 49 years, Joy Neal North, as well as children, Sara North, Jessica Edie (Brian), Katie Davis (Brad) and Matt North (Jalyn). Surviving grandchildren are Tressa, Jordan and Jayden Clouse, Sacia and Mira Edie, Ezekiel, Lucas and Jacob Davis and Aubrey, Ryann and James Matthew III (Trip) North. He is also survived by his sister, Alma Jean North; and brothers, Larry North, George North and Billy (Tip) North, together with many cousins, nieces and nephews. In addition, his beloved mother-in-law, Betty Neal, and brother-in-law, Rick Neal, survive.

The family will greet friends and relatives from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Rockbridge Church of God Holiness, 3515 Valencia Drive, Columbia, Mo., followed immediately by a memorial service at 3 p.m., officiated by Pastor Rodney Davis, Pastor Dennis Skinner and Pastor Tom Myers. For those who cannot attend, the service will be streamed live on the Rockbridge Church Facebook page. On Nov. 16, 2019, after an additional celebration of his life, family and friends will gather for burial at Garcitas Cemetery in Inez, Texas.

Memorials may be made to, serving our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need.

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel in Columbia, Mo. Condolences and tributes may be offered online at


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